Louvre Abu Dhabi and NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) announced today the detailed three-day programme for the virtual symposium, Reframing Museums, which is open to the public and taking place from 16 – 18 November 2020.

Reframing Museums symposium attendees will hear from global scholars, academics, artists, and international museum experts as they address the new responsibilities and challenges facing museums today and showcase innovative opportunities for the sector.


The programme is built around the three institutional pillars that have traditionally defined museums: The Collection (16 November); Building/Site and People, part I (17 November); and Building/Site and People, part II (18 November). The full programme is available on the Reframing Museums website.

Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, emphasised the array of topics that will be explored during the Symposium and the breadth of knowledge and experience by the institutions represented: “As a young museum in an entrepreneurial city, we are proud to be able to (virtually) host these critical discussions at such a pivotal moment. Now is the time to discuss how to forge ahead with new models to engage audiences and present our collections. We certainly won’t find all answers to these complex challenges in three days, but it is vital to seek constant dialogue among global peers and to continue to exchange experiences and ideas for an agile, sustainable, and relevant museum sector.”         

Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi commented, “Universities and museums hold unique and related roles in civil society as institutions of learning and discovery. Through this symposium, we seek to initiate a more hopeful and inclusive conversation among museum professionals, scholars, artists, and others about the relevance and future of museums. This is the right time to think about how to transform traditional definitions of the museum, to ask what and who museums are for, and to reimagine how they can build connection and community.”

we are proud to be able to (virtually) host these critical discussions at such a pivotal moment. Now is the time to discuss how to forge ahead with new models to engage audiences and present our collections

Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi

Through a pre-symposium series called “Unframed Voices,” museum professionals from across the globe gathered virtually to revisit the three pillars and define the key questions they – as museum professionals and artists – would like to see addressed during the symposium.

The programme format includes roundtable discussions, keynote speeches, and presented case studies followed by regular opportunities for attendees to network in break-out sessions and to continue discussions in a Virtual World Café.

All roundtable discussions, keynotes, and Virtual World Café conversations are free and open to the public to attend through advance registration. The discussions will be held in English with live translation in Arabic and French as well as live captioning in English.

The daily symposium programming runs 16 – 17 November from 11:00 – 21:00 GST, and 18 November from 14:30 – 18:30 GST.

Advance registration, open through 15 November 2020, is required via the website here. Please note that the number of attendees at the Virtual World Café discussions is limited and registration closes on 11 November 2020.


Programme overview

Full three-day programme attached and available on the symposium website


Day 1 – The Collection

  • Opening keynote by HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi) and member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, UAE. Followed by welcome remarks by Manuel Rabaté, Director of LAD, and Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi.
  • ”From acquisition to storytelling: what does the future hold for museum collections?” roundtable, with Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi (President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE), Maria Balshaw CBE (Director of Tate, UK), Michael Govan (CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), USA), Mikhail Piotrovsky (Director of The State Hermitage Museum, Russia), and Souraya Noujaim (Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE). Session moderated by Mina Al-Oraibi (Editor in Chief of The National newspaper, UAE).
  • “Re-envisioning the museum together” keynote by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University (NYU), USA and NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE.
  • “The future of exhibitions in a post-pandemic world” roundtable with Chris Dercon (President of Rmn-Grand Palais, France), Hamady Bocoum (Director General of the Museum of Black Civilizations, Senegal), Hervé Barbaret (Director General of Agence France-Muséums, France), Manuel Borja-Villel (Director of Museo Reina Sofia, Spain), and Yang Zhigang (Director of the Shanghai Museum, China). Session moderated by Antonia Carver (Director of Art Jameel, Saudi Arabia/UAE).
  • “Digital storytelling and knowledge sharing” case studies, presented by Lāth Carlson, (Executive Director, The Museum of the Future, UAE) Peter Gorgels (Manager Digital Productions, Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands), Hilary Knight (Director of Digital at Tate, UK), Gene Kogan (Artist and programmer, USA), Olivier Mauco (President, Game in Society, France), Anna Lowe (Co-founder, Smartify, UK), and Sara Bin Safwan (Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE). Moderated by David Wrisley (Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE).
  • “Modelling the future: new business models beyond tourism and the blockbuster show” roundtable with HE Saood Al Hosani (Acting Undersecretary of Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi, UAE), Françoise Benhamou (Professor, Sorbonne-Paris Nord University, France), Frédéric Jousset (Founder of Art Explora and Webhelp, owner of Beaux Arts Magazine, France), John Tate (CEO of Tamkeen, UAE[LAA1]), Max Hollein (Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA), and Peter Keller (Director General of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Austria/France), moderated by Fiammetta Rocco (Senior Editor and Culture Correspondent of The Economist and 1843, UK).
  • “Re-thinking the imaginary museum” keynote by Jean-Luc Martinez, Director of Musée du Louvre, France.


Day 2 – Building / Site & People

  • Opening remarks with Mariët Westermann and Manuel Rabaté.
  • “The museum as a re-imagined public space” roundtable, with Didier Fusillier (President of La Villette, France), Eugene Tan (Director of the National Gallery of Singapore and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore), and Zeina Arida (Director of the Sursock Museum, Lebanon), and moderated by Tim Jones (Culture Mile Manager, City of London Corporation, UK). 
  • Keynote by HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth (UAE).
  • A world history of museums keynote by historian and philosopher Krzysztof Pomian (France).
  • “Museums and empathy: towards new forms of engagement” case studies, with Dacher Keltner (Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, USA), Elif M. Gökçiǧdem (Founder of Empathy Building Through Museums, Turkey/USA), Helen Chatterjee (Professor of Biology, UCL, UK), Kavita Singh (Professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics of Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Maral Jule Bedoyan (Education and Learning Resources Manager, Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE), and moderated by Tom Crow (Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art, NYU and NYUAD, USA/UAE).
  • “Voices of authority: expertise, participation and inclusion in the museum of tomorrow” roundtable with Manal Ataya (Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority, UAE), Amareswar Galla (Professor of Inclusive Cultural Leadership and Director of the International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership (ICICL) and Dean of Faculty Development and Leadership, Anant National University, Ahmedabad, India), Kaywin Feldman (Director of the National Gallery of Art, USA), Laurence Des Cars (President of the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie, France), and Salah M. Hassan (Director of The Africa Institute and Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture, Cornell University, USA). The session will be moderated by Emily Kasriel (Head of Editorial Partnerships and Special Projects at BBC World Service, UK).
  • Keynote by Sandra Jackson-Dumont (Director and CEO, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, USA)[OD2]


Day 3 – People

  • “Museums & archaeological sites: activating the ancient through contemporary in museums” roundtable with A. Ege Yildirim (Urban Planner Specialising in Heritage Conservation, Turkey), Caroline Autret (Head of the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, UAE), Clare Davies (Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA), Guilhem André (Chief curator for Asian and Medieval Arts, Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE) [OD3]and Peter Magee (Director of the Zayed National Museum, UAE). The session will be moderated by Nora Razian (Head of Exhibitions at Jameel Arts Centre, UAE).
  • “The future of curators” roundtable with Reem Fadda (Director, Cultural Foundation, UAE), Jessica Morgan (Director of the Dia Art Foundation, USA), Rose-Marie Mousseaux (Chief Curator for Early Modern Art at Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE), Sophie Makariou (President of the Musée Guimet, France), and Thelma Golden (Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, USA). The session will be moderated by Andrew McClellan (Professor of Art History, Tufts University, USA).
  • Closing remarks with Manuel Rabaté and Mariët Westermann.